The Boston Celtics: “Control the Controllable”

Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics

Is this the end of an era? It just well may be.

LeBron James had a 21 point first quarter and a 42 point, 10 rebound, 12 assist virtuoso, triple double performance in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics; but it wasn’t enough.  LeBron made an incredible, instant classic, step-back three-pointer in that same, ridiculous first quarter, but it wasn’t enough.  The miracle, circus shot was absurd, even by LeBron James’ standards, but it wasn’t enough.

Here’s how Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer put it:

“A step-back, fadeaway, late-clock 3-pointer with one of the league’s best defenders draped all over him. And video of the first-quarter spread like wild-fire on social media as sort of a “Look at what LeBron is doing!” snapshot of his 21-point first-quarter barrage in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Here’s the thing: The Boston Celtics liked that possession an awful lot, too. They liked how Marcus Morris made James work just to navigate from the blocks to the 3-point arc in order to set an initial screen. Or how Marcus Smart, who switched onto James, prevented the Cleveland Cavaliers star first from rolling to the basket, then denied James’ initial attempt to back Smart down.

Yes, James eventually got the ball back and made a ridiculous shot, but the Celtics made him work hard for a low-percentage look. And therein lies one of the secrets to Boston’s success through the first two games of the series: making everything hard for James.

‘If you can, watch every possession. We have a bunch of guys coming out that give everything we got every possession,’ Morris told ESPN. ‘LeBron is great, we all know that. That’s something that everyone knows. So, at the end of the day, we can’t hang our heads on shots that he makes. We know he’s going to take those shots, we know he’s going to make some shots. ‘t the end of the day, we control the controllable.’”

We control the controllable.

That’s the quote, and that’s the lesson. We must control the controllable. There’s so much in this life that we can’t and don’t control. We can’t control what others say or do. We can’t control other’s actions or emotions or responses, but we can control what comes out of our mouths and what goes on in our hearts and heads. And we can absolutely control how we treat people. You may not feel like being kind or caring or forgiving or forbearing, but you can control how you act and you react.

So control the controllable. Control what you can, and don’t worry about what you can’t.

Now, back to the presumptive Eastern Conference Champions, the Boston Celtics:

“What the Celtics have controlled is their turnovers, which has eliminated easy transition opportunities. They’ve controlled access to the paint, limiting the chances for James to drive and create for either himself or his teammates. And the Celtics have controlled the intensity, dispatching a never-ending stream of versatile defenders, essentially tasking every player in their rotation with defending James at some point.

The other thing the Celtics control: the series (2-0). Yes, Boston knows it cannot relent in its defensive tenacity as the series shifts to Cleveland for Saturday’s Game 3 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). But an already irrationally confident group took a James haymaker in Game 2 (42 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists) and still won by technical knockout”.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/23541621/boston-celtics-defending-lebron-james-east-finals

And so the moral of the story is this: Exit, LeBron, enter Boston.

How To Be A Poor Sport

Russell Westbrook Attitude It’s amazing how some athletes can show us how to be both great and gruesome, unheralded and unglamorous, unstoppable and inexorable, all at the same time. It’s incomprehensible how the same athlete can have a triple-double and light up the scoreboard and yet have an attitude and a disposition and a standpoint that sticks out like a sore thumb and stinks up to high Heaven.

And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook may deserve to be the NBA MVP for 2017, but he also deserves a swift kick in the pants and a round wrap on the wrists, at the least. Westbrook stormed off of the basketball court after his Oklahoma City Thunder team lost Game 5 to the heated and hated rival Houston Rockets.  To add insult to injury, Westbrook is in competition with Houston’s All-star guard — and his former teammate — James Harden, for the MVP Award. 

Sadly, Westbrook could not lose graciously nor could he accept defeat amicably.

And that’s the hallmark and it should be the trademark of every true sportsman. Knowing how to win and learning how to lose is part and parcel of sports.  Since professional athletes are role models (note to Charles Barkley), anything they do and everything they say is scrutinized and analyzed to the Nth degree.

Sports and sportsmanship go hand in hand. https://godandsports.net/2014/05/30/sports-and-sportsmanship-go-hand-in-hand/ For the presumptive MVP to have such a great season end on such a grumpy note does not bode well.  When you don’t win, it’s chivalrous and courteous to shake hands and wish the winner well.  After a loss, moping and muttering and grunting and grumping aren’t acceptable actions for above average athletes. Unfortunately, Westbrook didn’t get the memo. 

The moral of the story is this: even when it hurts, and we’re mad and we don’t like how things turn out, let’s dig deep and reach high and stretch wide so that we can show how to lose with grace. Because just as we wax strong when we win, we gain just as much strength, if not more, when we learn to lose like a good sport.

God Loves Cleveland!

Cavs-win-game-7-jpg

Well, there you have it! History was made tonight as an epic, classic clash of titans ended with LeBron James besting the best team in basketball to win the 2016 NBA Crown. The Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 7 ON THE ROAD after being down 3-1 in games. What an unbelievable, unforgettable unforeseeable comeback.  But I will remind you that I DID see this coming (at least after Game 6). And I am going to say I told you so. 

The best player in the NBA is still LeBron James. Again.  He notched a triple double in a Finals Game 7 and led his team to the promised land of victory. He’s a force to be reckoned with, as the Warriors now know full well. Stephen Curry gave James a run, but LeBron was bent on proving that he’s still the King. LeBron delivered on his promise to bring a Championship to Cleveland. And his legacy has now grown that much bigger and that much broader.

So what is the spiritual speech and the theological lesson to be learned? The Cleveland Cavaliers could have given up and packed it in when they were down 1-3. But King James told his team the same thing Winston Churchill told his Country in WWII: “Never, never, never give up.”

So here’s to Cleveland and to the fans who have hungered and thirsted for a championship for so long. And thanks to King James, they have now been filled. So congratulations LeBron, 2016 NBA Champion and Finals MVP.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:16350298

God loves the World, even and including Cleveland; and that should give all the rest of us hope too.